Arthur Frank Mathews, The Oaks, ca. 1905
Oil on canvas, 22 7/8 x 26 in. (58.1 x 66 cm). Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Gift of Mrs. Henrietta Zeile, 26728
Arthur Frank Mathews was a painter, architect, muralist, illustrator, publisher, craftsman, and designer. With his wife, Lucia, he created a decorative style unique to California. Born in Wisconsin, Mathews moved to Oakland with his family as a child. As a teenager he enrolled at the California School of Design to study painting - he later became the school's director. After the earthquake and fire of 1906, Mathews established the Furniture Shop, which created furniture and decorative objects. By the early 20th century, California painters began depicting the local landscape in more personal ways. Instead of the panoramic views of the 19th century, artists turned their attention to more pastoral scenes, usually close to home. Mathews and his peers demonstrated an interest in translating the specific shapes and colors of the land to simpler forms. In The Oaks, the characteristic geographical features of California are recognizable, but they are filtered through the artist's eyes.
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